Meet Marion of West Country Creations
For this blog, we have a very special guest, Marion from West Country Creations, is here to talk about our collaboration and how she creates our beautifully handmade ceramic Henry candle snuffers.
Born in Somerset, with a family background of art, music writers and woodworkers, Marion trained at Bath Academy of Art in 3D Design Ceramics. Marion now lives in the Dorset countryside which has become her inspiration for her ceramics are all handmade using coiling, slab & press moulding techniques.
To make a candle snuffer ornament of Henry plus the Twoodle Co logo, I first made an original relief model of Henry’s face in clay. I used this lovely photo of Tim and Henry for reference. This was then cast in plaster so I had a negative press mould, picking up all the detail. We use plaster for moulds as when the damp clay is pressed into it, the porous plaster draws out some of the moisture, helping it to release easily and start the drying process.
The base of the snuffer is made the same way ,using a cup shape originally cast from a small rubber ball. The words are made by drawing them into a small rolled out slab, this time the clay was left to dry and fired hard. I then used another piece of clay to push into the words so I had a relief of the Twoodle Co words. This was then fired to make into a stamp so that I can make repeats.
To do this I roll out a thin slab of clay and allow it to dry a little on a wooden board. The board draws moisture from below while the air dries the top, ensuring a slow even drying. When it is firm enough, I use my stamp to make the words and a pin tool to cut around the shape, these are then lifted and shaped into the curve of the base and left to dry a little longer.
The Henry shapes and upturned cups are turned out of their moulds as soon as they start to lift away from the sides, the edges tidied with a damp sponge and then left to dry on boards. I use another stamp I made to put my signature inside the cup. When all the components are cheese hard, they can be handled without bending, they are stuck together with a slurry of clay or ‘slip’.
This is done by cross hatching the top of the dome and then matching the curved base of the Henry faces with a sharp knife. The slip is added to both surfaces and they are married together. Excess slip is removed with a paintbrush and sponge. The Twoodle Co words are added to the front of the dome in the same manner. The final touch is to make two lines and a circle below with my hand tools, to represent the Twoodle Co button logo.
Once all is tidied up the green-ware snuffers sit on a board and are dried slowly overnight. They have to be completely dry before they can go into the kiln for their first firing for 5-6 hours rising to 1000 degrees centigrade. The kiln has to cool down slowly to avoid thermal shock of the work. This is called ‘bisc’ or biscuit firing. The white earthenware clay is transformed from a buff grey colour to a white chalk finish.
Once the Henry’s are cooled, they must be rinsed or wiped with a clean damp sponge to remove any dust, totally dried and then they are hand glazed. I use an underglaze colour to paint his tongue pink, then brown earthenware glaze for his fur with coffee crème for his ‘chops’ and the base of the snuffer. Care is taken to wipe any glaze from the bottom of the base or they will stick to the kiln during the glaze firing which is another 5-6 hours, taking the temperature up to 1070 degrees centigrade.
A huge thank you goes to Marion for sharing how she makes our stunning Henry candle snuffers, I’m sure you’ll agree that they are as beautiful as they are functional and you can get your hands on one by clicking the link below.